If I recall correctly, this was my first sipdown from October. I also recall being very careful while brewing this tea because I only purchased one of these dragon balls and wanted to get as much as possible out of it so that I could eventually post a detailed and accurate review. Of the Yunnan Sourcing black tea and flower dragon balls, this one currently stands as the best of them, though I still have not tried the black tea and rose dragon ball. I found that the Royal Chrysanthemum flowers and Big Snow Mountain black tea complimented one another nicely.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped the entire tea and flower dragon ball (about 8 grams by my scale) in 160 ml of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry dragon ball emitted aromas of chrysanthemum, cedar, malt, sweet potato, black pepper, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of sugarcane and ginger alongside an even more pronounced royal chrysanthemum scent. Subtle aromas of red grape and plum came out on the first infusion. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of royal chrysanthemum, malt, cream, sugarcane, and plum that were balanced by hints of red grape, cedar, ginger, black pepper, and eucalyptus. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cinnamon, camphor, cocoa, nutmeg, and caramel as well as subtle baked bread scents. Impressions of sweet potato appeared in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate red grape, ginger, black pepper, and eucalyptus notes. I also detected mineral, cinnamon, camphor, red apple, baked bread, nutmeg, earth, caramel, and orange zest notes and hints of cocoa, tobacco, banana, and cooked green beans. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering mineral, chrysanthemum, caramel, black pepper, baked bread, malt, and red grape notes that were underscored by hints of plum, red apple, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, ginger, sweet potato, sugarcane, tobacco, and camphor.
This was a great offering. What I most appreciated about it was its balance. The last two black tea and flower dragon balls I have tried have struck me as being very unbalanced. The most recent was a Snow Chrysanthemum and Big Snow Mountain black tea dragon ball, and the flowers often struck me as overwhelming the tea. That did not occur here. The Royal Chrysanthemum flowers and black tea worked near perfectly together.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Bread, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Earth, Eucalyptus, Floral, Ginger, Grapes, Green Beans, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Plum, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco